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After many years I've finally got around to buying a couple of d100s, because I think they're great fun, and percentage die are for wimps ;-)

I am also in the middle of a 5e campaign, and I wondered if you'd ever have a reason to use a d100 in it. My GM said there was one shapeshift spell that uses it, but I thought just for kicks I'd ask the community.

What, if any, uses are there for a d100 (or percentile dice) in 5th edition? In what situations would you use them? I would be genuinely interested to find out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – Kuerten Jun 14 at 0:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Joseph. I edited your post because we don't signal edits in text around here. You can edit it further if you dislike my changes. Otherwise take the tour and check out this meta for places to find information about the site! \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Jun 14 at 6:21
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Most uses of a d100 are for a DM

There are a lot of d100 random encounter tables on pages 92 - 112 in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

There’s A framing event table in the DMG page 79, a dungeons location table page 99, there are d100 treasure tables pages 136 - 139; random magic item tables pages 144 - 149; several tables in the magic items section determining what the item’s effects are pages 135 - 213; tables for helping create sentient magic items pages 214 -217; tables for artefact properties pages 219 - 221; effects of madness pages 259 and 260; a number of tables on 293 - 301 for helping design dungeons

Mixing Potions

Page 140 of the DMG has a d100 table for a variant rule about mixing potions:

A character might drink one potion while still under the effects of another, or pour several potions into a single container. The strange ingredients used in creating potions can result in unpredictable interactions. When a character mixes two potions together, you can roll on the Potion Miscibility table. If more than two are combined, roll again for each subsequent potion, combining the results. Unless the effects are immediately obvious, reveal them only when they become evident.

The table details what might happen if you start mixing multiple potions together. Effects range from them blowing up in your face, turning to poison, working normally or becoming permanent. The most likely result though is that both potions simply work normally.

Teleportation

This spell instantly transports you [...] to a destination you select. [...] Your familiarily with the destinalion determines whelher you arrive there successfully. The DM rolls d100 and consults the table.

The DM rolls on the table for Teleportation whenever the spell is cast to determine if you arrive at your intended destination successfully. Different methods of using Teleportation or different levels of information determine which specific table you roll on as there are several tables in one block.

However, there are some for players

The carousing table in the DMG page 128 and the running a business table page 129 are meant to expand on the downtime activities options for players.

There are also a number of tables for player backstories in XGtE pages 61 - 73. There are also tables for character names pages 175 - 192.

The sorcerer’s wild magic table page 104 is an obvious one for players that springs to mind.

Trinket tables, PHB 160 and 161. They say that can also be used by the DM to help stock a dungeon.

Divine intervention, PHB page 59, requires a cleric to roll percentile dice (or a d100) to see if their god intervenes:

Imploring your deity's aid requires you to use your action. Describe the assistance you seek, and roll percentile dice. If you roll a number equal to or lower than your cleric level, your deity intervenes.


Allowing players to roll on DM tables

(Note that this section requires the DM to be willing to allow players to roll on DM tables. It is not guaranteed nor expected that your DM will allow for this, this is simply a suggestion which would allow for players to roll a d100 more frequently.)

User Phlarx pointed out that, although many tables are intended for use by the DM, a DM may allow the player to physically roll the d100 as the DM reads the result on the table. From their comment below this answer:

In our group, the DM has the players roll d100's for the treasure/item tables (he then looks up the results), going around the table until all treasure has then been accounted for. It has worked well for us, and I think it makes random loot a bit more engaging.

From user Phlarx’s experience, allowing players to roll on tables intended for the DM, such as the treasure and item tables, has increased player engagement in their game.

From this we may infer that allowing players to roll on other tables intended for DM use - such as the Teleportation table, the Mixing Potions table, or tables which determine what effect a magic item has - could also increase player engagement.

The process of allowing players to roll on DM tables may look like this, the appropriate dice being a d100 in the case of this question:

“The DM either picks a result from the table or determines if a roll is needed. If a roll is needed, the DM asks the player(s) involved to roll the appropriate dice. The DM reads the result of the roll and checks it against the table, reading out the result on the table.”

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    \$\begingroup\$ Very comprehensive! Many thanks for all that information. \$\endgroup\$ – Joseph Karl Jun 15 at 2:42
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Take a look at the Wild Magic sorcerer.

If you want to use the d100 a lot, you can't get better than a subclass who's features rely on it. At level 1, these sorcerers get:

Wild Magic Surge

Starting when you choose this origin at 1st level, your spellcasting can unleash surges of untamed magic. Once per turn, the DM can have you roll a d20 immediately after you cast a sorcerer spell of 1st level or higher. If you roll a 1, roll on the Wild Magic Surge table to create a magical effect [based on a d100]...

Tides of Chaos can also trigger the Wild Magic Surge, and eventually (level 14) you gain the ability to roll twice and choose the result you want with Controlled Chaos.

Now, the Wild Magic Sorcerer is extremely GM dependent, as you only roll on the Wild Magic Surge table (or have the chance to) when the GM permits. Some GMs I've met roll almost every spell, and some almost never roll. So, ask your GM how often they expect to trigger Wild Magic Surge (or the chance at Wild Magic Surge) before playing one.

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Outside of homebrew (and potentially some pre-written campaigns), there isn't too much. Using a d100 is an uncommon roll.

That said, however; in the DMG, there are a few tables to use a d100 on - random encounters, item loot, or spending downtime Carousing, Running a business or Selling things to the right vendor (DMG p. 128-130).

There are also a few magical items that have a d100 effect, like the Wand of Wonder (DMG p. 212):

This wand has 7 charges. While holding it, you can use an action to expend 1 of its charges and choose a target within 120 feet of you. The target can be a creature, an object, or a point in space. Roll d100 and consult the following table to discover what happens.

In the PHB, the Cleric can use it on a Divine Intervention (PHB p. 59), or the Sorcerer can use a d100 on the Wild Magic Surge Table (PHB p. 104).

The Wish spell (PHB p. 288) has a 33% chance of triggering a stress effect, which could also be rolled on a d100 (emphasis mine):

[…] The stress of casting this spell to produce any effect other than duplicating another spell weakens you. […] Finally, there is a 33 percent chance that you are unable to cast wish ever again if you suffer this stress.

There is a selection of tables that you can use this on too, such as the Trinkets Table (PHB p. 160), or some name generator tables in Xanathar's Guide to Everything, but these are generally one-off tables to roll on.


There is however quite a bit of homebrew tables of random effects or encounters you can find online to potentially incorporate into your game, to mix things up!

While not specific to d100s in 5e; there are also other RPG systems that use percentile dice and d100s more exclusively, such and Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader, Call of Cthulhu, or Unknown Armies.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Funny thing about wish: a d100 is the smallest (of the official) die that you can use to get exactly a 33% chance of failure. Normally I'd use a d6, but that has a slightly higher chance of failure than RAW specifies. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Jun 14 at 10:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cubic you don't really even need to say "of the official" since 100 partitions is the smallest set wherein you could have the equivalent of 33 failure cases and 64 success cases (as that metric is cannot be simplified) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jun 14 at 13:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron Did you mean 67 success cases? \$\endgroup\$ – Keeta Jun 14 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Keeta Yes, I have no idea where I got 64 :P \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jun 14 at 14:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron: yup, 67 is prime, so it has no common factors with 33 = 3 * 11. I find it amusing that the rules probably wanted or were thinking a 1/3 chance (e.g. 1 or 2 on 1d6), but instead wrote 33%. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Jun 14 at 16:22

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